By Frederick Buechner
A protracted Day's death is a mid-twentieth-century Jamesian novel that foreshadows a number of the subject matters in Mr. Buechner's later writing—faith, belief, and the advanced kin of friends and family. the tale follows Tristram Bone, a rotund guy of wealth and "organized rest" yet a failure with ladies, and Elizabeth terrible, a wealthy, fascinating, and gorgeous widow and Bone's unrequited love curiosity, via a chain of encounters with family and friends, affairs actual and imagined, gossip, jealousy, and innuendo. We additionally meet Bone's servant Emma and his puppy monkey Simon; the novelist George Motley; the boastful and seductive educational Paul Steitler, Elizabeth's naïve son Lee, and her omniscient mom Maroo.
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You will discover," continued Elizabeth, "that I have sent something more than the sum originally proposed, and I shall leave the disposition of the balance entirely within your hands with the one stipulation that you do not . . " A Long Day's Dying 47 "This manicurist. " He laughed. Elizabeth flicked the letter to bring it straight again, making a cracking noise, and read on. "One stipulation, that you do not use it towards the erection of bars, alarms, or barriers of any kind whatever. " "There are those," he said, "there are perhaps three or four," he said, "who would question my authority in affairs of that sort, but in some manner I am qualified.
This was sad, but it was also not sad. It was a curious smile she gave to the desk clerk who suggested to her that the terrace behind the inn was ideal for cocktails at this time of day and of year and agreed to tell her son, when he came, that she would join him there. The window of her room looked down upon the terrace in question, littered with round green tables each pierced by a vivid umbrella and already more than half filled with people, young for the most part, undergraduates in gray flannel and seersucker and their young ladies with hair shiny from much brushing and clad in dresses cooler than the season seemed to require.
Before her stretched the West Side Drive, and to her right the river lined with docks and the prows of liners. Her nu•mory pleasantly tilillat<'d, she wondered at the recurrence that day of a nostalgia connected with a particular portion of lwr youth, and only gradually realized that it was no coincidence hut the logical outcome of following, for the first time in some y1~ars, an old path, a series of old paths. Slw could Pn~n predict, onee this discovl·ry wa:> 56 A Long Day's Dying made, what would touch her next and speeded up to hasten it, but the predictions were largely wrong, or at least inadequate, for it was the unanticipated- that most affected her.
A long day's dying by Frederick Buechner